Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Winter student art salon provides opportunity for non-majors

The annual Winter Student Art Salon, which will run from Dec. 4 through 18 in the Sheehan Gallery, takes on new importance this year with the recent opening of the Fouts Center for the Visual Arts and a redoubled effort on the part of the gallery to engage the local community. The salon puts on display a selection of works by all students, not just those who major in Studio Art. Students may submit a maximum of three entries until the deadline of Nov. 30 at 8 p.m.

Exhibitions and Collections Manager with the Fouts Center Kynde Kiefel spoke enthusiastically about how much support the students give each other.

“It’s just an incredible support and surprise to the student body that their peers are capable of such amazing creations,” he said.

The main goals of the exhibition as well as its format remain essentially unchanged.

“One of the things this exhibition does   is that it provides an opportunity for students who are non-art majors . . . to have the experience of having their work in a professional gallery setting,” said Dawn Forbes, director of the Sheehan Gallery.  “I think it’s a really nice thing to do because we have a lot of students who are very talented, who participate in the classes here on campus, and it gives them an opportunity to showcase their work.   I think part of it is giving recognition to those students outside of just the studio majors.”

Students are involved in more than just creating the art that will be displayed.

“We have a wonderful student staff. Last year, they helped a lot,” said Kiefel. “We gave them some freedom to design the show since it’s for students and about students, and it was somewhat by students too. They helped a lot and were pretty excited about getting to help with the aesthetic design of the exhibition and just kind of help around the promotion and all of that as well.”

In addition, the exhibition helps to prepare the senior studio art majors for their own exhibitions in the spring.

“Some of the senior thesis students are invited to assist in setting up the exhibition so that they can learn the actual process of installation. It satisfies a lot of different tasks. They learn how to use certain tools, what would work in certain spaces. That’s a nice training for the spring, when they will again have to consider what their work would look like in a nice setting,” said Kiefel.

In past years, the community has been welcome to attend the event, but this year is the first time community members have been allowed to submit art for consideration.

“This year, we may have the art club at Walla Walla Community College coming to campus. They’ve asked and we’ve agreed to allow them to come and participate in this event. It will give them a chance to see how a student show is run and learn some things about exhibition design and preparation. It’s really wonderful because it’s not just a campus-wide activity, but is now also reaching out to a larger community as well. It’s a chance to share what’s going on with the larger community.” said Forbes.

With the opening of the Fouts Center for the Visual Arts last year, Forbes thinks it both interesting and significant that the salon still takes place in the Sheehan Gallery, which is located in Olin Hall, adjacent to the former Olin Hall studio art wing.

“I think that now the art department has moved across campus, it’s a really nice way to maintain and demonstrate the relationship that the gallery has with the art department. I know that when the art department left, a lot of the faculty and staff in this building [Olin] expressed disappointment and concerns because they really enjoyed having the students work here in this space. I felt it kept the building really alive and I always loved to see what the students were doing, so the exhibition sort of gives us a chance to maintain that in a way,” said Forbes.

She also believes that by maintaining Sheehan as a viable, usable gallery, the department can keep students living near Olin informed of and involved with studio arts.

“While there is high traffic over there in Fouts, not everyone on this side of campus makes it over there to see what’s going on,” says Forbes.

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